Journal Article

Characteristics and Health Needs of Veterans with Other-than-Honorable Discharges: Expanding Eligibility in the Veterans Health Administration

Jack Tsai and Robert A Rosenheck

in Military Medicine

Volume 183, issue 5-6, pages e153-e157
Published in print May 2018 | ISSN: 0026-4075
Published online February 2018 | e-ISSN: 1930-613X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usx110
Characteristics and Health Needs of Veterans with Other-than-Honorable Discharges: Expanding Eligibility in the Veterans Health Administration

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Abstract

Background

There has been nearly no research on the health of veterans with Other-than-Honorable (OTH) discharges because they have traditionally not been eligible for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, the Secretary of the VA has recently expanded eligibility provisions to provide access to some VA health care services to veterans with OTH discharges to help address any urgent mental health care needs. It is unknown if veterans with OTH discharges have worse mental health and potentially greater mental health care needs than other veterans.

Methods

Using data from the 2001 National Survey of Veterans, this study examined the characteristics and health status of veterans with OTH discharges compared with veterans with honorable or general discharges. Physical and mental health was assessed with the 12-item Short Form health survey.

Findings

Bivariate comparisons revealed that veterans with OTH discharges were younger, reported lower income, were more likely to lack health insurance, and reported more mental health problems than other veterans. After controlling for other factors, veterans with OTH discharges were still younger and reported more mental health problems than other veterans. Post hoc analyses revealed veterans with OTH discharges were significantly more likely to report having accomplished less because of emotional problems, performed activities less carefully because of emotional problems, felt less calm and peaceful, and felt more downhearted and blue in the previous 4 wk than other veterans.

Discussion

These findings suggest that veterans with OTH discharges have substantial mental health care needs and may benefit from the VA’s recent provision granting them increased access to VA care but some may need more comprehensive mental health care services.

Keywords: Veterans; Mental Health; Military Discharge; Healthcare Needs

Journal Article.  3434 words. 

Subjects: Medicine and Health ; Emergency Medicine ; Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery ; Military Psychology ; Warfare and Defence

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